By Charles Caramello
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Extra info for Silverless mirrors: Book, self & postmodern American fiction
43 But this "textual" self—which includes ourselves—also continues to trace the lineaments of the authorial self—of "the word and the face" of the authorial self—already pronounced dead; that tracing is, in my view, one purpose of the conceptual drama of postmodern American fiction. Insistent on the deconstruction of itself as a mediator between author and reader, between world and word, this fiction does not cease mediating, in its themes and forms, the obdurate fact of the biological and biographical author's mortality, of the Page 34 conceptual author's mortality, and, perhaps, of God's mortality—the last, certainly, if we can read God "both as symbol of man's need for total meaning and as image of reflexivity and aesthetic control" (HA, 161).
Modernism again shifts these grounds of appeal, and postmodernism appears to deny them any validity. For the culmination of this beginning, however, for Joyce's decisive entry into postmodernism, we must again turn to Finnegans Wake. Bruno. Joyce," suggests something not only larger than the doctrine of organicism taken over from romanticism, but something perhaps contrary to it. " Finnegans Wake, in sum, not only signals and effects the demise of the discrete author, reader, and book, but it may, at the same time, signal and effect the dream of a Textual unity, of a world"Text," which neither yearns for Book, nor quite forgets it.
By contrast, most characters in contemporary fiction are independent role inventors, tailors, as it were, of the imaginative suits which they cut for themselves'' (55); they are fabricators—and, crucially, fabulators—not only of private and often solipsistic selfimages, but of equally private and solipsistic environments conducive to the nurture of those images. This nub, for example, defines the problem in Barth's Lost in the Funhouse and determines the method of Walter Abish's Alphabetical Africa.